In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard says she is “thinking about seeing,” and I know what she means. How many times have I walked across this campus too involved with the narrative in my own head to appreciate the beauty at my feet and before my eyes?
I’m often guilty of mindless seeing, although I recently got a wake-up call, both literally and figuratively, from my dog, Madeline, a Brittany spaniel mix with moss-colored eyes. She woke me from a deep sleep the other morning to go outside. I tried to ignore her (it was 3 a.m.!) but she persisted so I trundled down the stairs and opened the door to reveal a night sky that pulsed with stars. There was one—I’m sure some smart reader will know its name—that was glowing brighter than my porch light. I was transfixed by its intensity and thought of Dillard’s words: “There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises,” if only we practice focused observation.
Someone who did pay attention—to the magazine and nature’s bounty—is Stevie O. Daniels, who served as editor of this publication since 2010. She recently retired to North Carolina but leaves behind a fastidiousness for detail and grammar. (I’m told a fierce discussion once erupted in Feather House, home of the Communications Division, over the correct style of ellipses). Stevie also wrote poetry, the outdoors her muse, and with a master’s degree in horticulture could identify every species of tree and shrub on campus. A member of the Bushkill Creek Conservancy, Stevie cared deeply about the environment, and it’s no coincidence this issue is devoted to that theme.
As reported in “Food for Thought,” (pg. 30), college students across the country are taking a greater interest in food issues and sustainability, and Lafayette is playing a crucial role. The introduction in 2012 of majors in environmental science and environmental studies has attracted a whole new crop of students committed to keeping a watchful eye on the stewardship of the planet. I feel certain Dillard would approve.
As new editor of Lafayette magazine, my wish for you is to make time to think about seeing, and absorb the wonder before your eyes. I promise to do the same.
From our house to yours, Happy Holidays.
Kathleen Parrish, P’16
PS: I’ll explain the coffee stain in the spring issue.